ABSTRACT: Several studies in murine systems have suggested a role of apoptosis in the pathogenesis of leishmaniasis. However, the role of apoptosis in visceral leishmaniasis in man has not been explored. In this study, we show that patients with visceral leishmaniasis demonstrate significant dysregulation of Fas and Fas ligand. Levels of soluble Fas (sFas) and soluble Fas ligand (sFasL) were elevated in plasma of patients with active visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and individuals co-infected with VL-HIV-1 compared to healthy controls. The levels of sFas and sFasL were normalized 6 months after successful treatment. In VL patients, the expression of membrane bound Fas, and to a lower extent FasL, were up-regulated on Leishmania donovani-infected spleen cells, the site of parasite multiplication. Expression of Fas and FasL on peripheral blood mononuclear cells was within normal range, probably reflecting that the blood is not a normal site of L. donovani infection. Furthermore, this is suggested by the finding that in vitro infection of macrophages with L. donovani up-regulated Fas expression on the surface of infected cells and enhanced the levels of sFasL in supernatants from infected cultures. How this dysregulation may affect the pathogenesis of human visceral leishmaniasis is discussed.
Clinical & Experimental Immunology 12/2002; 130(2):307-13. · 3.36 Impact Factor